Despite my graduate school studies at hand, I somehow managed to run across an interesting video about a new car that is fueled only by air. At first, I thought this air car was some kind of hoax, but it turns out it's totally not. The company is called Motor Development International (MDI), and they're not exactly practical jokers.
Sure, you might think they are, given that the front-end design of their cars (see above) isn't all that dissimilar to the nose of a pug. But they do meet the one standard for being taken seriously as an up-and-coming mere fifteen-year-old car company based out of France: their concepts and model cars actually look futuristic.
The technical mumbo-jumbo about the vehicle boils down thusly: the car is powered by compressed air. At slow speeds, the compressed air is good as just that. At speeds above 35 miles per hour, though, some form of fuel (gasoline or some other derivative of oil) kicks in to heat the compressed air. Meaning: gas is used simply to heat air rather than to provide power, which translates to a stunning estimated 106 miles per gallon of fuel.
Of course, we all know that cars only succeed in a market when they meet certain standards. For consumers, there's three main factors influencing decisions about which car to drive.
First: aesthetics. Let's be real: cars are not meant only to get from one place to the next. Even the most apathetic driver wants a car that screams sexy. Can it impress potential mates? Does it make your butt look big? If you try to have sex in the car, will it be comfortable enough to do so? (If that last part is important, you may also want to tint those windows.)
Next, the obvious issue is speed. Sure they say it can go upwards of 90 mph, but what's the point of going that fast if it can't reach that speed in fifteen seconds, tops? I live in Los Angeles, so I know all too well that unless a car has the ability to zip in and out of traffic and then ride the next car's bumper into oblivion, it's not a car worth driving.
Finally, does the car have the potential to explode? I'm talking less in the possible hazard(s) of having your car Molotov cocktailed, and more about action films. Just imagine the next generation of kids watching an old action movie with you, when suddenly a car explodes on screen, and your five-year-old kid is like "Wha? That would never happen. Air is NOT that combustible without additive chemicals. Pshaw."
And then when you try to explain the phenomenon of neighborhood gas stations and carbon monoxide emissions and manual transmission, he'll roll his eyes at you and be like, "Man, old timer, get with the program. That was some depression you lived in. Didn't people, like, die if they left the car running in the garage? Oh hey, wait, go hook up your oxygen cord to the exhaust pipe before you put your seatbelt on. How many times do I have to remind you that the air emitted from the car is better to breathe than the air in our backyard?" And you'll shrug and be like, "Eh, old habits die hard. Now let's go cruise those streets, sit really low in our seats, and blast our music as loud as we can. Hit it."